Doris Lessing, née Doris May Taylor, was born on October 22, 1919, in Persia, in Kermanshah (present-day Bakhtaran, Iran). Her father was an officer and her mother a nurse. In 1925, when the girl was 6 years old, the future writer's family moved to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), then a British colony. Lessing herself described the years she spent in the African wilderness as a nightmare, in which only sometimes there was a little pleasure. According to the novelist, her unhappy childhood was one of the reasons she began to write about the relationship between colonizers and black Africans and the chasm that lay between the two cultures. Doris attended a Catholic school and then, until the age of 14, a girls' school in the capital city of Salisbury (today Harare), from which she never graduated. She did not receive any formal education thereafter. In her youth she worked as a nurse, a telephone operator, and a journalist. In 1939 Doris married Frank Charles Wisdom, by whom she later had a daughter and son. However, in 1943 she divorced her husband, leaving the children with their father. In 1945 she was married to the German immigrant Gottfried Lessing. From this marriage Doris had a son, with whom she left Africa in 1949 after another divorce and moved to London to start a new life as a writer. Doris Lessing began publishing in 1949. Her debut novel was called The Grass is Singing. Between 1952 and 1969 she published a semi-autobiographical series, The Children of Violence, consisting of five novels: Martha Quest (1952), A Suitable Marriage (1954), The Waves After the Storm (1958), Surrounded by Land (1966), City of Four Gates (1969). Instructions for Descending into Hell (1971) and Summer Before Sunset (1973) are novels that plunge the reader into the depths of a frustrated psyche and insanity. In 1979-1983, she published The Canopus in Argos: Archives Series of fantasy novels, which are visionary allegorical novels about a future in which the characters, male and female archetypes, interact in a space composed of six zones, otherwise called "levels of being." Chicasta (1979), Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, Five (1980), Experiments on Sirius (1981), Creating a Committee of Representatives for Planet Eight (1982), the latter of which was the basis for an opera written by composer Philip Glass in 1988. The final novel of the series, Papers Relevant to Sentient Agents in the Volien Empire (1983). One of her most famous novels, The Golden Notebook, was published in 1962 and is considered a classic of feminist literature. In 1985 Lessing published The Good Terrorist, a satirical novel that won critical acclaim. It tells the story of a group of London revolutionaries. In 1988, the book "The Fifth Child" was published, which is considered one of the most important in the late work of the writer. It is the story of a freak boy at the most primitive level of development. In the 1990s she published two autobiographical books, Under My Skin and Walking in the Shade. In 1996, after an eight-year hiatus, the novel And Love Again was published. In 1999, the futuristic novel Mara and Dan. The novel Ben, Abandoned, a sequel to The Fifth Child, was published in 2000. Doris Lessing published two novels under the pseudonym Jane Somers: Diary of a Good Neighbor (1983) and If Old Age Could... (1984). Lessing also won a high reputation for her stories. Her major collections include This Was the Country of the Old Chief (1951), The Habit of Loving (1958), A Man and Two Women (1963), African Stories (1964), and The Temptations of Jack Orkney (1972). In 1978 a volume of short stories was published that included all of her "minor prose," except those set in Africa. Another collection, The Present, was published in 1992. Lessing is the author of four plays staged in English theaters: Mr. Dollinger (1958), To Everyone His Own Desert (1958), The Truth about Billy Newton (1961) and Playing with the Tiger (1962). In 1997, a new collaboration with the composer F. Glass resulted in the opera Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five, which premiered in Germany. Lessing's publicism includes the books Above All Cats (1967, revised edition Above All Cats and Rufus, 1991), as well as two volumes of memoirs Going Home (1957) and In Search of English (1960). In June 1995 Lessing was awarded a doctorate from Harvard University. In December 1999, Doris Lessing was included in the latest list of recipients of the Order of the Chevaliers of Honor, which honors people who have "distinguished service to the nation. In January 2000 the National Portrait Gallery in London officially unveiled a portrait of Doris Lessing by Leonard McComb.